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What is jealousy?

Most people have some sort of relationship with jealousy. Maybe you've felt it yourself, maybe you've had a partner or another relationship that was affected by it. Most people also have a rather strained relationship with jealousy. It's an unwelcome, uncomfortable and, for many, shameful experience. So what exactly is jealousy and how can you begin to explore it?

Written by somatic therapist Molly Mørch

It's not wrong to be jealous

Jealousy is often associated with shame, a sense of being wrong, or in this case, feeling wrong. Jealousy and people who are very jealous are looked down upon - and that doesn't make it any easier to start working on it. So one of the first things you need to meet jealousy with is curiosity: what is it really? While doing this you should also remember that just because you feel something, you don't have to act on it.

Jealousy is not one emotion

One of the things that makes jealousy a complicated issue is that it's not actually one emotion, it's a mixture of several emotions. And to make it even more complicated, the mix of emotions can change from person to person. Jealousy can theoretically be a mixture of all seven basic emotions: joy, lust, anger, sadness, fear, disgust and shame. The clients I see who are very affected by jealousy often feel a mixture of shame, disgust, fear, sadness and anger in particular. The very first item on the agenda if you want to start releasing jealousy is to examine it.

How to get started

Notice what feelings and thoughts are connected to jealousy for you. Are you afraid of losing something? Saddened by the thought of someone else getting attention? Angry that your partner doesn't understand you? Ashamed that you feel jealousy at all? There can be many answers and many versions of jealousy. See if you can create a clearer picture of what it is for you. Once you have that overview, some of the feelings may be able to be accommodated or understood a little better one at a time. Either by yourself or by your partner/relationship. If it's very unclear and you have very violent reactions, I would recommend that you get help from a therapist.

Where is the challenge?

I sometimes see clients who think their own jealousy is the problem, but there are other bigger challenges in the relationship. It could be mistrust, lies or simply a lack of communication that actually results in the jealousy. Here, it's important to focus on the actual challenge and not the reaction. Jealousy can be a healthy reaction to some unhealthy circumstances. It's not always the case, but sometimes...

Remember that it's a complicated matter

Jealousy is a complicated thing. How we feel jealousy is a result of our past experiences in life. Start by being curious about how you experience it yourself and get help from a good friend to talk to, your partner or maybe a therapist if it gets too difficult. It's possible to get to know your jealousy a little better and be able to influence it so that it doesn't affect you so much.

Read more articles by Molly here:

Also read: 5 types of intimacy that aren't sex

Also read: Guide to partner massage

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